Friday, 13 January 2017

An executioner and his prisoner

As I explore a range of different miniature manufacturers, I came across Midlam Miniatures who do several great ranges of quite old school metal models, that are incredibly well sculpted and for very reasonable prices. I was tempted by the slightly scrawny orcs for my Warlock of Firetop Mountain project, but in the end I was seduced by the characterful range of villagers and townsfolk to add to my collection of various npc's. So to accompany my recent scratch-built torturers rack, I got hold of an executioner and his prisoner, as they can also create a new narrative for my games with the kids (and other future games):

I think the executioner has a good side and can be swayed from his grisly task. I wonder whether the adventurers will take that path when they encounter him? I think I need to add a male prisoner too so I'm not relying on the cliched damsel in distress idea; my daughters game with female heroes and they warm to lead female heroines in films (Princess Leia and Rey as two Star Wars examples), so instead they could save the captured (helpless) Duke for example. I'll need to source a new mini for this then...

Posing for the camera in his torture room.

Will he let her go and rebel against his dungeon lord?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Morcar, Kev Adams and Me

In a bid to tidy up loose ends from 2016, I recently completed this incredibly cool model. The reason it's so great? Well because it combines some amazing aspects of this hobby; a free miniature of Morcar sculpted by Geoff from Oakbound Studios (which I received from BOYL 2016), a Kev Adams custom sculpt of my head (on top of Morcar's) and because I can use it with my kids as we explore Heroquest. But mostly because Kev Adams sculpted my head, and I got to watch a true master at work (and share a beer and chat with him). I was amazed at how he sculpted and used tiny balls of greenstuff to add form and feature to the sculpt and how he managed to produce so many of these personalised portraits over the course of the day (all money raised went to charity) in quite difficult conditions - the temporary flooring moved when people walked past and he was having to listen to all of us enthusiasts ask him a load of questions. Ever the gent he responded with some great stories and details of his experiences and offered my some advice about my own sculpting concerns.

I still can't believe he sculpted teeth on such a small scale.

My painting is below, but this is more about the amazing skills of both Geoff and Kev who combined to make this figure - sirs, I doff my cap and hope one day I can create something even remotely as good as this.

I thought I'd blur out my face deliberately for a blog post that is largely about my face! (it didn't look as bad as a thumbnail..)

As a model he'll be used when I game with my kids - he can represent me as the evil dungeon master or the helpful mage, joining or offering advice to the adventurer party. I therefore deliberately painted him with colours that could represent either alignment and ensured that he received brown eyes and a ginge tinge to the hair (I wish I had this much hair - I think Kev was being kind). 

Here you can see me standing amongst my tomes, skulls and altar, maybe the incantation requires me to rock out. (I had to google that, I'm not sure I've ever done that particular hand pose, I'm not very rocky). 

Rocking in my dungeon, surrounded by all that I need (and love).

And here's the original sculpt[s]:


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

From 2016 into 2017

I much prefer to look forwards than backwards, but sometimes a little bit of reflection upon the last 12 months doesn't go amiss, and can actually help me look forward even further to the coming year, in terms of my hobby output.

Next year I want to complete more of my projects, convert my miniatures a lot more (like I used to - but working with nostalgic models has made me wary of "spoiling" an original and has therefore stunted my creativity with form and originality) and not buy so much stuff on a whim. Here's what I've got lined up to paint over an (undesignated) period of time (at a future date I'll show what's lined up to convert):

Primed and ready to go..

Roughly from left to right; there's my bitzbox warband leader (primed black) and some of his minions that still need painting (damn it's been well over a year); a load of npc's from Otherworld and Black Scorpion, some old Citadel Skaven for my (almost completed Retinue table challenge - the unconverted minotaurs are at the back and the harpies are still in my bitzbox), a free Oldhammer miniature from BOYL, the start of a Bob Olley space gang, a Scibor necromancer, some creatures for my Frostgrave Bestiary, a load of Citadel Orcs for my newest project, a few Chaosy warriors, a Giant worm for my Warlock of Firetop Mountain mission and the rest of my baggage train. Phew. And I'm sure I'll just paint these, no other distractions....

So these lucky models were the chosen few to make it to my pizzabox/spraybooth as:

1. They were all prepared
2. Pretty much relevant to completing some unfinished business from 2016 (and, hmm 2015).
3. The majority of them I'm looking forward to painting.

2016 saw me paint more than I've ever done in a calender year before (even before I blogged and perhaps even more than when I was a young teen - although admittedly those days are not seen with such clarity now). The blog breakdown:

  • 66 blog posts (four more than last year)
  • 87 miniatures (including completing my Nurgle Holy Grail)
  • 41 pieces of scenery (including dungeon tiles, doors, gold/skull piles, walls etc)
  • 5 dioramas (including my son's castle, 40k scenery, fantasy backdrop and Warlock stuff)
  • 1 Vehicle (Mad Max based)
  • 2 pieces of artwork - the banner for this blog and a portrait of my sister's dog for Xmas (undocumented on here).
  • A lot of games with my kids (THE most fun part of all this) and another visit to BOYL

That's a fair few more painted than last year all round, so my pace (or maybe time efficiency) is improved and I've added a few extra tekkers to my painting repertoire too - happy days - all 366 of them. Well in case you missed out, here's the 5 most popular blog posts from last year for you to peruse if you like and therefore adding a few extra hits to them, making them further popular:

I should at this point give a massive shout-out to all my Russian readers who obviously love reading my shit, avidly, daily and in vast numbers: Спасибо за прочтение!

Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Dungeon scenery part 3.

After re-vamping some old heroquest furniture and buying some lovely Grendel Scotia stuff, I decided to make some of my own dungeon scenery. Now this thought happened many months ago and I began experimenting with the possibilities of using some scraps of extruded polystyrene in conjunction with some coffee stirrers for a cheap, scratchbuilt alternative. The gaps in my collection (and what I need for gaming purposes) showed that bookcases and instruments of torture were required! So with these materials and my box of bits I went about making bookcases and a torturers rack.

That was quite a few months ago and the little project stalled at the made stage and other ideas and projects leapfrogged their way to the front of the queue. So, with me recently deciding upon a New Years resolution of "finishing jobs before others are started"  (and this includes DIY and work projects), I decided to start this process at the end of December, so these three pieces were completed last night at the paint station:

The extruded styrofoam was not great to work on such a small scale for the books, greenstuff would have been better, and the poor quality finish wasn't helped by me not properly coating the foam in dilute pva prior to priming; this created a slightly pick-marked surface. The scrolls are just scraps of thick paper rolled up and stiffened in pva. The coffee stirrers are great though and have been added to my scratchbuilding kit. Here's a Wip of the bookcases:

I forgot to do the same for the rack, but it is made from the same materials with the additions of some small plastic shields for the turning device and some plastic bits from my box to decorate. Everything was primed brown and drybrushed, washed and glazed with some greens and yellows to create a wood like affect and then some dry pigment applied to create a dusty appearance on the bookcase. Some Tamiya  clear red was mixed with uhu glue to create some stringy blood on the rack.

Right, now to paint some of my backlog of miniatures that may accompany these pieces and act as ncp's for future games...

Monday, 19 December 2016

Citadel Combat Cards: Goblinoids

It was always going to happen; constructing a Warhammer 3rd Edition Orc and Goblin Army, similar to the one I collected as a teenager in the 80's and sold as an adult in the 2000's. Upon my re-introduction to the hobby, I'd started to collect the odd Goblinoid model for my Lost and the Damned Retinue project (Orcs and Goblins) and then this slowly grew to more of a warband and now the next step is to grow it into a full scale army using the same classic models that I once owned.

But to make the collecting aspect more interesting (and more difficult) I recently purchased the Citadel Combat Cards, Goblinoid edition with the aim of collecting those specific greenskins first to add some additional models to the growing horde. Now I'm not one to do things on a total whim, a fair bit of research is always conducted first. An initial scour of eBay gave me hope in that there are a lot of O&G classic models being sold there and for decent prices too. A secondary search for others who may have undertaken a similar task bought me to Fimms BlogSpot where he had actually completed the task in it's entirety (although I'm unsure whether he's painted them all yet). Using his own research I have discovered that some of the Snotlings are very rare, that one Goblin has been heavily converted by Kev Adams and that some of the models have been mirrored when photographed to provide a better fit within the combat card composition.

So rather than collect them all first as he has, I'm going to collect and paint along the way, which will hopefully give me ample time to complete the project (it took him 3 years just to source the minis!). I already have a few of the required models painted up (my rule here is: the model must be the same, but painted and based in my own style to fit in with the previously painted greenskins). So the first three completed models:

And then with their respective cards:

To end this post I should say that I've now got this additional idea that I'll eventually combine my photos with the same combat card template (any suggestions on how to do this easily?) to create my own card system (as the amazing Nico has here for Frostgrave) and finally, if anyone has any of the models from the set, I'd be very interested in buying or trading (especially these pesky, rare Snotlings:

Image result for rare snotling combat cards

Image result for snotling fungus brave

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

An Undead Champion of Chaos (Deadcember)

I like a bit of ambiguity, in a hobby sense it creates opportunity. Ambiguity of race, alignment and status are all present in this model that I've just finished painting. Is he undead (the skeletal legs would assume so), but perhaps a good undead - the shield design and colour may make that a possibility? His helmet suggests some sort of status too, perhaps a hero? He could of course be a Undead Champion of Chaos, as per the Lost and the Damned. I haven't found any models that were specifically released to fulfil this role though, anyone know of any? Anyway, he'll be fulfilling one of those roles for me...


Ambiguity with a sculpt, however can be a pain in the arse when it comes to painting, trying to work out what is what is slightly irritating, especially if you work it out half way through painting it and realise it needs to be re-painted. A third layer into highlighting the cloak around his shoulders with a pale blue, I realised it was in fact a metallic shoulder armour...

This model has both types of ambiguity. The definition of the shape of the axe was pretty terrible and I'm still unsure what exactly is supposed to be around this fellow's neck, (I guess it allows some creative freedom - which is a positive) but I'd take these sculptural/casting defects any time for a nice ambiguous character. Because this guy (I believe) was marketed by GW in 1985 as a Chaos Champion, but because of his skeletal legs, he could also quite easily be an Undead Champion. Muliple uses. Added character. Helps create a backstory for him.

This of course triggered the Lost and the Damned in me, in fact the Lost and the Very Damned in me, because what could be more damning than a dead servant of chaos being re-animated on a whim by their patron as an undead, lesser version of before? The Path of Chaos indefinitely prolonged in a  non-progressive stasis? But he'll have no idea of his identity, so this is all bollocks anyway. Here's why LatD says on p.159:

"The fallen body of the Chaos Champion rises as an Undead Champion. Initially his appearance will be little different to that of his living form. The Undead Champion is recognisable as such only by his deathly pallor and slightly ungainly way of moving. As time goes on the Undead Champion starts to decay. His flesh peels away, exposing his putrefying innards and gleamin bones. Eventually the Champion is reduced to a complete skeleton. Undead Champions do not have the intellect or even the sense of identity that they had when alive. Perhaps a remant of their former identity haunts their eyes, but they are really little more than automatons."

A further passage in the book describes how you have to deduct characteristics from the original champion as he becomes Undead, losing S,T,I etc but becoming fearsome and immune to psychology. He can also lead Undead units which is useful as in the army list from the same book there is an option for zombies and skeletons to be present.

The cold blue paint job for this guy was based upon a Wight King that I painted a few years ago, but this time I wanted to add some artificial warmth to him, to represent the once living and some part of his former self, hence the sun shield (which I think is from a Marauder Dwarf?) I had to raise him up on some cork rocks, partly because he's such a small figure (didn't you know that in 1985 there was a shortage of greenstuff due to the surfeit of sculpts during the golden age of Gw and all those grand ideas needed to be sculpted with something)  and also because he needed a more leaderly looking pose, raised up on a plinth of sorts, more statuesque perhaps.

I like my efforts on this undead champion of chaos, it was fun to conceive and to create.

If ambiguity provides opportunity then I am nothing more than an opportunist. Completing this model on the one hand for my Nurgle warband/army but also so I can partake in Deadcember (painting undead during December). It's a thing apparently and a nice bit of extra motivation to get something else done from a pile of models. And I haven't found too many (any?) examples of an Undead champion of Chaos, so Google had better make this post come up first on any search result. Maybe you can help with that by reading it once at work in between important stuff  and again when you get home in the comfort of your armchair. Go on, it won't kill you.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Part 3.

After a bit of un-illustrated dungeon exploring we get to:

The door opens to reveal a small room with a stone floor and dirty walls. There is a stale smell in the air. In the centre of the room is a makeshift wooden table on which is standing a lit candle. Under the table is a small box. In the far corner of the room is a straw mattress. You may either open the box (turn to 240) or leave the room (turn to 363)

Of course we open the box:

The box is light, but something rattles within. You open the lid and a small SNAKE darts out to bite at your wrist! You must fight the Snake.

SNAKE         SKILL 5    STAMINA 2

If you kill the Snake, turn to 145.

For this instalment I've had to make a very small box with a snake in it. I did consider making it life size, but in the end thought that it just had to be in miniature, as that's what I do and so I can actually game with it. But it was hard to work on this tiny scale (and even harder to photograph properly with my iphone).

I'm not at all sure what manufacturer made the snake and I relise it's more cobra than the original illustration. It's also not attacking in it's pose. Again I considered a scratchbuild, but thought I could actually spend my time better on scratchbuilding the box. I used plasticard, tissue paper, card, a bead and some crackle medium.

And here's the original illustration by Russ Nicholson

My photograph with a Prisma filter on it

And again with my hand in it.

Of course I completed my colouring in exercise too, which helped me think of the colours I wanted to use on the model itself.

Here I've tried to recreate the scene as depicted by the passage of text for page 240.  "The door opens to reveal a small room with a stone floor and dirty walls. There is a stale smell in the air. In the centre of the room is a makeshift wooden table on which is standing a lit candle. Under the table is a small box".

 Some WIP photos:

I had to employ my tweezers on this, as it was very fiddly trying to glue everything into place. Black plasticard for the box, green tissue paper hardened with pva for the lining, a bead for the clasp and some cardboard edging and hinges.

And just for scale purposes, seen here with my Deadcember model.

The box has fallen to the ground during your fight with the Snake and out of it has fallen a bronze-coloured key with the number 99 carved into it.  You may take this key with you (note it on your equipment list) and leave the room. Add 1 LUCK point and turn to 363...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

BitzBox Warband - the troll and the centaur

Just over a year ago, I started on a Bitzbox Warband which followed these simple rules:
  1. Every model must be converted / kitbashed to hell (and therefore unique)
  2. I must use only currently owned bitz (no buying more stuff!)
  3. I must not use more than two parts from the same kit on one model
  4. If using Realm of Chaos, then rolls must be adhered to or complete the conversion and then find attributes to match (I did the latter here).
And as a reminder (to me and you) that this is what I "rolled up" on the Lost and the Damned retinue table:

  • Seth Spawnbloat. Level 10 Human. Champion of Nurgle. Infestation of Nurlings. Atrophied Arm, Enormously Fat. Palanquin, Shield, Warhammer
  • Darn the Veiled. Chaos Marauder. Mark of Nurgle, Horns, Heavy Armour Shield.
  • 5 Beastmen. Standard. I decided to create a Beastman champion to lead these; 
  • Araf. Level 5 Beastman. Mark of Nurgle. Bestial Face (Dog), Limb Loss (leg), Demonic Steed (Skull Face, Horn)
  • Chaos Centaur

The last model on the list is shown here and whilst working on it, I also found a partly converted stone troll from my old bitz box that was just screaming at me to be completed - I've painted a lot of stone trolls in my time and they always provide a treat for the brush. So I've added him to the group and in doing so have broken my own rule 4, but for completions sake, here's the new addition:

  • Troll. Pinhead, Horns

Hands up like you just don't care. The score sheet is based upon "When The Saints Go Marching In". Imagine him banging that out on his drums as the warband approaches....

The parts used for the conversion are pretty diverse, Orc drums, Horror torso and arms, flagellant boards, plastic dragons(?) tail, plastic cold one body. I deliberately painted him pretty Tzeentch like with yellows, blues and purples, but the addition of a greenstuffed gut, gave him a slightly Nurgle look.

The troll is a very straightforward conversion; a plastic chaos warrior head applied and greenstuffed around the neck and a ForgeWorld GUO horn added to his shoulder with some sculpted flesh around it. I wanted to create an albino feel to this chap, working with cool pinks and a cool blue for the scales, contrasting with the more solid colours of the wood, metal, axe and base. Always a pleasure to paint these though.

Moving onto the 4 Beastmen next, maybe.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Warlock of Fretop Mountain. Part 2; Sleeping Orc Sentry

There is a right -hand turn to the north in the passage. Cautiously you approach a sentry post on the corner and, as you look in, you can see a strange Goblin-like creature in leather armour asleep at his post. You try to tiptoe past him. Test your luck. If you are Lucky, he does not wake up and remains snoring loudly - turn to 301. If you are Unlucky, you step with a crunch on some loose ground and his eyes flick open - turn to 248.

For Part 1 of this adventure I had to create just a piece of terrain, but this entry required a figure too, which greatly complicated matters (more of that later). For the sentry's post I used the same technique as before, using the expanding foam over a dense polystyrene base and then carving back into the expanded foam once set to create a niche for him to sleep in:

A small torch was scavenged as a left over from my son's birthday castle and some thin wire wrapped around it to make a sconce and so as to hold it to the wall and some greenstuff added (not shown here) to extend the flame upwards. Obviously I was constantly referring to Russ Nicholson's illustration as I was working.

Finding the appropriate model was the most time consuming part of the build. Trying to source a scrawny orc was quite a challenge (so many of them are brawny nowadays) and after flirting with some of the Midlam Orcs in the end I plumped for this crewmember from Notlob's artillery which I paid £2 for:

He obviously needed a fair bit of converting and greenstuffing (on a very minute, detailed scale) to get a likeness, you can see a wip shot below where I've lengthened his nose, added wrinkled bags under his eyes and some tattered clothing. Only the helmet and draping loincloth to add at this stage. The legs were repositioned to make him recline and some mantic ghoul arms were added across his chest to re-create the same slumbering pose as per the illustration.

Yet again I forgot to take photos of the painting stage, because it really is such a quick process for me now. Sprayed grey and brown, dark wash over everything, highlight up and then glaze with browns and greens for the mossy appearance. I had to spend a bit more time working on the lighting effects from the torch, glazing in with some yellows and oranges.

The painting of the orc skin followed my usual recipe and I finally added a few clumps of foliage for some extra detail on the rock face. Here's a few other photographs where I was experimenting with angles and lighting:

The prisma app is a wonderful thing for projects like this, as I can turn my model back into an illustration in the style of Russ Nicholson's originals. Unfortunately my app is no longer working, so I had to interrupt JB's romantic weekend through Messenger, with a geeky favour. And of course the good chap that he is, he came up trumps (hopefully during a lull in the weekend) :

I think the top one works best. Of course I also coloured in the same illustration from my colouring in book, trying to capture the sense of light and dark and a slightly gaudier palette than on my painted model:

I deliberately built this diorama to also fit in with my modular dungeon, as one day I'd like to play the Warlock of Firetop Mountain, with all the re-made illustrations integrated into the layout,  following the actual map from the book:

I do need to make and add a small modular floor that can cover the exposed magnetic strip, as can be seen above.

The next instalment of this will be page. 240..